Satisfying An Unmet Need: Creating a New Memory
Human nature has us attempting to satisfy our unmet needs. Often we do this in ways that are unsuccessful and unhealthy.
Let’s look at how to meet an unmet need and resolve the pain of our open wounds:
Step 1 The Event
Write out in detail all you can recall about the wounding and painful event. Leave enough space between the lines so that later you can write in between these initial lines.
I remember being in the 4th grade and getting back an assignment from my teacher, Mrs. Bradshaw. At the top of the paper I saw the letter D written in bold print. It was math class. I could hardly believe I was seeing that D. My first thought was that I could not bring the paper home to show my parents. I quickly went up to the front of the room and threw the paper in the wastebasket. I just dropped it down and walked away. Mrs. Bradshaw saw me do this.To my horror, she called out my name and insisted that I retrieve the assignment from the wastebasket. She did this in front of the entire class. At the same time, she said she would be calling my parents.
Step 2 Feelings
Now, re-read each sentence carefully and write down as many feelings as you can.
I remember being in the 4th grade and getting back an assignment from my teacher, Mrs. Bradshaw.
SCARED INADEQUATE WORRIED
At the top of the paper I saw the letter D in bold print.
Step 3 Inner Voices
Next, think about the words you might have been saying to your self. These are our inner voices and they represent our inner beliefs. They also regulate our inner thermostat of emotional responses. In the example, there was a “warning voice” that said, “…don’t show mistakes.”
These inner voices are the meaning you derive from important interactions and exchanges. They shape your self-identity and are your personal story or narrative. If your inner voice of truthsays, “You are all alone”, it will be very hard for you to ask for help or support. Your voice of truth, is often not a rational truth or even a truth that would apply to others, but it is your truth. From your experience, it is what has been true for you. Even if someone shows love and acceptance, if your voice of truth says, “No one loves me”, you will brush off that person and may even feel upset or offended.
Inner voices are very powerful, and often we are not conscious of these beliefs and how they impact and guide us.
To help you identify those voices, take a look at the following list of common inner voices. Please take some time to identify your inner voices and write them down alongside the Event andFeelings.
Common Inner Voices:
Negative Predictive Voice
Example: You’ll never get good grades.
Example: Don’t let others know your faults.
Voice of Doom
Example: You will be in big trouble if people get to know the real you.
Voice of Truth
Example: Don’t trust others, you are all alone.
Voice of Dissociation
Exam ple: Don’t know, don’t feel.
Voice of Criticalness
Example: You are dumb and stupid.
Voice of Shame
Example: No one would ever accept you.
Voice of Logic
Example: Everyone has bad days.
Voice of Reasonableness
Example: Parents don’t know how you feel without you telling them.
Voice of Judgment
Example: No one will like what you say.
Step 1: Write out the story of a vivid and painful memory.
Step 2: Add the emotions associated with the memory.
Step 3 Identify and make a list of your inner voices.
Now, let’s look at how to create a new memory with a positive outcome. This will help you create a virtual memory.
Step 4 New Memory
Write out the old memory a second time. This time, however, include ideal parents in the story. What would they have said? What would they have done? What facial expressions would they have? What would their body language be? Would they have put their arm around you, held you, comforted you? Where would they have stood in relation to you (for example, would they have come over to you and held your hand, patted you on the back?). Then imagine these ideal parents telling you that they could help you with your feelings, even if those emotions were anger or guilt toward your true parents.
Let yourself picture that little child with these new ideal parents, parents who would have been with you that day and every day after that. Let your body feel peaceful and calm. Imagine having had that feeling all through your childhood, your adolescence, and now in your adult life.